SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: JON WATTS / SCREENPLAY: CHRIS MCKENNA, ERIK SOMMERS / TOM HOLLAND, JON FAVREAU, JAKE GYLLENHAAL, SAMUEL L. JACKSON, MARISA TOMEI / RELEASE DATE: JULY 2ND
Well, now what? With the universe recovering from the events of Infinity War and Endgame, and the Avengers (as we know them) disassembled, the denizens of the MCU find themselves living in an irreversibly changed world. There are literal Gods, magicians, gamma monsters and space aliens visibly moving in their midst. Also recovering from the disappearance - and subsequent return - of half of the universe, it’s a scary time to be alive. The world is crying out for the next Iron Man. Where does that leave our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man?
After travelling to outer space and back… mostly, he just wants a holiday. Leaving the Spidey suit at home, Peter Parker (Holland) joins the class trip to Europe, hoping to forget about the pressures of superhero life and snatch some time with the lovely MJ (Zendaya). Nick Fury (Jackson), however, has other plans. Bullied into Fury’s latest world-saving escapade, Spider-Man joins forces with the, uh, mysterious Mysterio (Gyllenhaal) in fighting a number of monstrous creatures known as ‘Elementals’ as they pop up around Europe. In Mysterio, Peter finds warmth and guidance - the kindly big brother to Tony Stark’s father figure. But is all as it seems? Could Mysterio really be a superhero from another dimension, come to save the day? No spoilers but, well… this is Mysterio.
After the grim beat-downs of Infinity War and the relentless bombastics of Endgame, Far From Home slows things down and gets back to basics, reacquainting audiences with Peter Parker and the everyday folk of the MCU. This is less a palate cleanser and more of an epilogue; unlike Ant-Man and the Wasp, it’s relevant and substantial, and gets some good world-building done in the wake of Thanos.
While the action is busier and the stakes higher than they were in Homecoming, director Jon Watts doesn’t forget about the characters. First and foremost, this is Peter Parker’s story, and Far From Home sees him struggle finding his place in the world without Tony Stark, weighed down with the great responsibility of being Spider-Man. In classic Spidey style, he juggles school life with superhero commitments, the latest horrible threat never more than a few moments away.
This gets Zendaya’s ‘MJ’ more screen time, filling out her character and allowing the actor to quietly steal every scene she’s in from Peter’s classmates. There’s a deft balance between humour and drama, and those tired of the MCU’s recent quip-fests should appreciate a more nuanced tone. It still remains very funny of course, but the humour is grounded in character rather than ‘jokes’ and Whedon-esque snark. The film, however, would still have benefited from about 50% less Happy Hogan.
With four films now under his belt, this is Tom Holland’s best outing yet as Spider-Man, and the character is more like the Spidey we know and love than ever before. Some elements remain underdeveloped or simply aren’t there (still no Uncle Ben), but Holland has made the role his own, and his Spider-Man now feels like a fully, properly integrated part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Also a part of the MCU: Mysterio. Jake Gyllenhaal’s Quentin Beck should go down as one of the MCU’s greatest achievements so far. The costume looks incredible (fishbowl and everything!) and Mysterio’s illusions are visually astounding. Far From Home shares a villain problem with The Guardians of the Galaxy 2, in that it’s all rather obvious, but that makes this fully realized Mysterio no less impressive.
Far From Home is a busier, less structured film than its predecessor, but it makes up for its shortcomings with incredible action, excellent performances and the best web-slinging ever seen in a Spider-Man film. This is the best live action Spider-Man movie since Spider-Man 2 - and only the shared universe trappings keep it from topping Raimi’s much-loved sequel.
While Far From Home doesn’t give a lot away in terms of what the next ‘phase’ might entail, it’s a beautiful epilogue to the Infinity Saga, and its mid and post-credits sequences are unmissable. With Thanos and the Endgame now done and dusted, this completes the final stretch of Marvel’s home run. Well… now what?
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10